Grass-Based Agriculture

Grasslands are an environmentally-friendly renewable resource that can be used for the grazing of dairy cows and other livestock or for producing hay and silage for winter feed. Grass is the recommended crop for many acres of North Country farmland given the climate and soil resources of the region.

An estimated ten percent of the farm acreage in Northern New York is pastureland. Grass-based agriculture is becoming more popular as a way to lower farm expenses by more intensively using pastureland as a source of high quality summer feed for dairy herds, for finishing beef cattle and for increasing numbers of sheep and goat enterprises. Additional acreage is used to produce grass for hay and silage. "Grass-fed" farming practices are being used as a marketing tool to sell meats and other products.

The production of forages, legumes and grasses not only offers a low-cost source of livestock feed, but an income opportunity as the grassland crops become more viable as energy source crops. These crops also serve land conservation purposes, such as flood and erosion control, carbon sequestration and the preservation of natural habitat for birds.

Click on the links below to learn more about Northern New York Agricultural Development Program projects and other resources that focus on grass-based agriculture.

Brown Root Rot
Forage Treatment
Forage Trials
Grass Biomass
Grass-Fed Beef
Grass Trials
Manure Management
Wide Swathing for “Hay in a Day”
Additional Resources

Press Releases
- Results of Baleage Quality Research Now Available

Brown Root Rot
- Assess Alfalfa Stands for Brown Root Rot This Spring (2008)
- Management of Brown Rot of Alfalfa and Forage Grasses: Update of Research in NNY (Early 2009)

Press Releases
- Cornell Researchers Urge Farmers to Look Now for Brown Root Rot: Photo Resource Online at www.nnyagdev.org

Research Reports
Brown Root Rot Causal Agent is Composed of a Species Complex by Michael J. Wunsch and Gary C. Bergstrom, 2010
Management of Brown Root Rot of Alfalfa in NY: 2008-09 Report
Management of Brown Root Rot of Alfalfa and Forage Grasses

Ag Carbon Credits/Offsets/Trading
Ag Carbon Glossary of Terms

What are Ag Carbon Credits/Offsets/Trading
Agricultural Offsets and Registries
Carbon Trading: Benefits of Carbon Sequestration by Ted Dodge, NCOC
Carbon Trading: Cap and Trade 101 by Stacie Edick, CNY RC&D
Carbon Trading: Sources and Sinks by Jeni Wightman, CNY RC&D
Intro to Cap-and-Trade
Intro to Carbon Trading in Agriculture
Sources of Greenhouses Gases from Agriculture
Understanding Soil Carbon Sequestration
Whole Farm Planning with Carbon Credits by A. Edward Staehr, NY Farm Net

Carbon Credit Contracts and Economics
Carbon Credit Economics of:
Conservation Tillage
Permanent Grass Planting
Manure Methane Destruction (Cover with Flare)
Managed Woodlots
Managed Afforestation

Chicago Climate Exchange
Essential Elements of Ag Carbon Contracts
CCX: Conservation Tillage Offsets
CCX: Grass Planting Offsets
CCX: Agricultural Methane Destruction Offsets
CCX Sample Contract for Exchange Soil Offsets
Selling Carbon Credits on CCX

Dairy Greenhouse Gases Calculator
Determining if Carbon Trading is Right for You
Dollars and Cents of Carbon Sales at the Farm Level
Intro to Ag Carbon Contracts and Third Party Verifiers
Selling Air: Intro to Legal Ramifications of Carbon Trading

Farmers & Ag Carbon Profiles
Patterson Farms Dairy - One Farm’s Experience with Ag Trading
Patterson Family Farm Digester by Connie Patterson

Press Releases
NNY Ag Program Posts Carbon Offset Info, Calculator Online

Additional Resources
New York State Energy Department of Environmental Conservation RGGI Regulations
NYSERDA – New York State Energy Resource and Development Authority
New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets
US Environmental Protection Agency AgSTAR Program

Forage Treatment
- The Effect of the Silage Fermentation Process on Mycobacterium avium subsp. Paratuberculosis

Forage Trials
- 2009 New York Forage Legume and Grass Variety Yield Trials

Grass Biomass (also see Grass Trials)
- 2008-09 Optimizing Grass Biomass Yield and Quality for Combustion

Grass-Fed Beef
Press Releases
- Grass-Fed Holstein Beef

Research Reports
- Holstein Beef for Grass-Finished Market

Grass Trials
Press Releases
- Evaluating Perennial Grasses as Dairy Crop in NNY

Research Reports
- 2009 New York Forage Legume and Grass Variety Yield Trials
- 2008-09: Production and evaluation of perennial grasses for energy conversion in NNY
- 2007 Forage Legume and Grass Variety Yield Trials Summary Season Totals
- 2007-08: Production and evaluation of perennial grasses for energy conversion in NNY
- 2004 Grass-Alfalfa Spring Quality Prediction
- 2004 Tall Fescue Variety Trials
- 1999 Orchardgrass & Timothy Variety Trial - Canton
- Production and evaluation of perennial grasses for energy conversion in NNY

Manure Management
Research Reports
- 2006 Manure Management on Grasses
- Grass Manure Management as Influenced by Species

Switchgrass is focus of open house 'THIS IS REALLY WHERE IT STARTS': Madrid farm tour explores adaptability of crop, energy use

Fact Sheets
- Establishment and Management of Switchgrass (#20)
- Sulfur (#34)
- Zinc (#32)

Research Reports
Production and evaluation of perennial grasses for energy conversion in NNY

Wide Swathing for “Hay in a Day”
Press Releases
- Grass for Energy Research Expanded in NNY
- A New Way to Make Hay in Northern New York?

Research Reports
by Tom Kilcer unless otherwise noted
- Alternative Approach to Controlling the Impact of Grain Prices
- Economics of Intensive Grass: Reconsidering Clover, Jan 2008
- Evaluation of Wide Swathing of Haylage in Northern NY
- Go wide by Shirley Roenfeldt, Dairy Herd Management, April 2007
- Growing Corn for Grain May INCREASE Your Grain Bill: Corn vs wide swathed haylage
- Leaving a Wide Swath, Hay & Forage Grower, Feb 2005
- Making Haylage Using Wide Versus Narrow Swaths by Mike Rankin, University of Wisconsin Extension
- Maximizing Milk From Forage: When to Cut, How to Cut
- Potential Alternative Rotation for Less than Ideal Drained Soils:
Wideswathed tritical and clover
- Where Are We With Haylage Harvest and Where Are We Going? May 2008
- Wide Swath Haylage by Joel Bagg, OMAFRA
- Wide Swath Haylage Doesn’t Need Conditioning, Hay & Forage Grower, Feb 2008
- Wide Swath Haylage Fact Sheet
- Wide Swath Haymaking: an old concept revisited with a new twist by Mike Rankin, University of Wisconsin Extension
- Wide Swath Research: Do I Need to Wait for the Dew to Dry?
- Wide Swath Research: Open the Mowing Window While Maintaining Forage Quality

Additional Resources
- Cornell Bioenergy Feedstock Project
- Grass Biofuel Summary - Sept. 2005
- Grazing for Small Farms
- www.grassbioenergy.org